Still no answers about UA’s $240 million budget shortfall

President Robbins faces backlash at Regents meeting

Grace DeJong, El Inde Arizona

UA students still don’t know what the university plans to do to resolve its $240 million financial crisis.

President Robert C. Robbins continued to leave University of Arizona students and staff
in the dark amidst the school’s $240 million budget shortfall.

Students and staff were expecting answers to the financial crisis when the Arizona Board of
Regents met on Thursday Nov. 16, at the UA. But, President Robbins declined to address the
situation, saying that the university will release a written financial plan on Dec. 15.

“It’s not the time for me to go through and describe all the issues around our financial
challenges,” Robbins said.

The meeting began with an open call to the audience that lasted over an hour.

”As a public board, it is important that we hear all stories, all opinions and all input,” said
Regent Fred Duval, an ABOR member.

In fear of suggested scholarship and salary cuts, many members of the student body and
faculty stepped up to the podium to voice their concerns, including students like Edie Baron,
who stand to lose their college education.

“When President Robbins announced the university’s financial crisis and the ways he’s
looking to recover from it, I was riddled with fear and anxiety, not only for myself, but also
future students who didn’t grow up in a wealthy family that could afford to pay for their college
education,” said Baron, Student Body Executive Vice President and first-generation college

In a Nov. 2 meeting with the Regents, Robbins pointed to the athletic department’s
spending ahead of its move to the Big 12 as a culprit for drained university resources. However,
Holly Thomas, a geoscience doctoral student, highlighted an influx of funds over recent years in
all university areas.

“More than $2.5 billion have been raised in the past six years, making them the highest
giving years in the university’s history,” said Thomas, adding that revenue from tuition-paying
students increased by half a billion dollars and out-of-state tuition was raised by $8,000 per-
student over the same six-year period.

When it came time to address the Regents, Robbins gave a presentation on the UA’s
successful investments from the Strategic Initiatives Fund, supported by returns generated by
short-term investment of university operating funds.

“The Student Success Building is a great example of how university investment, bond
market use, and philanthropy can serve our students,” said Robbins.

From a public understanding, the university has thrived in its use of financial strategy, yet
they have come up short $240 million.

“I just commend the presidents for the continued work you’re doing to really increase the
diversity of the students in your enrollment,” said Regent Penley, specifically speaking to the
increasing enrollment of low-income students at all three universities.

Students and staff are curious to find out if the continued effort toward financial equity
will be possible after this fiscal pitfall.

The University of Arizona is expected to have some answers to how it will deal with its $240 million shortfall by Dec. 15.

El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.

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